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Cell 174

by Milo van Mesdag

Horror
2022

Web Site

(based on 5 ratings)
3 reviews

About the Story

A micro text-based psychological thriller about a man trying to understand his dreams, his life, and the choices that have led him to seek answers in a prison cell.

Written in one afternoon, in four hours, for Ectocomp 2022

Includes depictions of mental illness, extreme violence, rape, political horror, homophobia and profanity.


Game Details


Awards

8th Place, La Petite Mort - English - ECTOCOMP 2022

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Taking "psychological horror" literally, November 21, 2022
by Draconis
Related reviews: Ectocomp 2022

A choice-based piece, written in Ink, based around a conversation between a psychologist and a patient (set in I think the USSR?). I say “piece” instead of “game” because the focus was very much on the story and the writing rather than the playing. There are choices to make, but with the feeling of not very much choice to them—both because you’re constrained by your role, and because your patient often doesn’t really care what you have to say.

That writing, then, is excellent. The patient’s descriptions got a visceral reaction in some places and the twist at the end was very effective—if there were indications of it earlier, I certainly didn’t notice them. It read like a very solid short story, interactive or not. The first time through I thought my choices didn’t really matter and any other sequence of choices would have led to the same ending; then I went through again and it finished differently. (Now if only I could choose not to bring up Oksana…)

My biggest issue with it is typographical. It’s a weird thing to criticize in a Petite Mort game, but the whole story is told through this conversation, and I was sometimes confused about who was talking and what was dialogue versus action. Quotation marks were sometimes there and sometimes not: “let the silence sit” was (as far as I can tell) an action for my character to take, and please, carry on was a line for my character to say. Some sort of indication of who each line belonged to would help.

Overall, though, the writing is very solid, way more so than I expected in a four-hour game. Whatever the typography may be, I’d have to recommend it on that point alone. And even if this brand of psychological horror isn’t my usual jam, the way I reacted to the writing shows that it’s succeeding at what it’s trying to do. Very well done.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Grimdark prison interview, November 14, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This game, written in Ink in 4 hours or less, has you, apparently a psychologist, interviewing a cold, emotionless killer.

You have to ask about his life, his actions, and his dreams. He is emotionally unstable, so you have to be careful what you say. Your comments can make him shut up or open up.

The game uses a variety of charged language and imagery, including strong profanity, descriptions of violence, incest, misogyny, and violent death, and strong hatred.

It's all very grimdark. This man is irredeemably bad, and seems to hate himself or everyone around him.

It has some interesting narrative twists and the craftmanship in the choice structure really spoke to me. But the content did make me feel deeply uncomfortable, which is a subjective thing that of course differs from reader to reader.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
NKVD Blue, November 4, 2022
by jakomo
Related reviews: ectocomp2022

You're a shrink talking to a murderer in a Russian prison: initially about himself, then moving on to his murders, and then his own family. The killer has a really strong voice: sweary, belligerent, self-consciously confrontational. Heavy-duty dialogue like (Spoiler - click to show)"Push your dick into a million whores, you will never know what it feels like to push yourself into another man's brain, past his broken skull." He seems to revel in his violence, but, as the player-character points out early on, it's likely just a mask. You can let him talk freely or interject with your own questions. Written in Ink, a basic no-frills implementation. Works literally, as a frightening character study, but can also be read symbolically, as a metaphor for the historical traumas suffered by the Russian empire that brought it to its current precarious state.

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Cell 174 on IFDB

Polls

The following polls include votes for Cell 174:

Outstanding Ink Game of 2022 - Player's Choice by MathBrush
This poll is part of the 2022 IFDB Awards. The rules for the competition can be found here, and a list of all categories can be found here. This award is for the best Ink game of 2022. Voting is open to all IFDB members. Eligible games...

Outstanding Horror Game of 2022 - Player's Choice by MathBrush
This poll is part of the 2022 IFDB Awards. The rules for the competition can be found here, and a list of all categories can be found here. This award is for the best horror game of 2022. Voting is open to all IFDB members. Eligible...

Outstanding Ink Game of 2022 - Author's Choice by MathBrush
This poll is part of the 2022 IFDB Awards. The rules for the competition can be found here, and a list of all categories can be found here. This award is for the best Ink game of 2022. Voting is anonymous and open only to IFDB members...




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